A Father's Answered Prayers

My children are the answers to prayers I couldn’t possibly have made, God’s gifts that I couldn’t have guessed at.

Posted in , Jun 24, 2015

Answered prayers. God's gifts.

God’s answers to prayer can be much better than you ever expect.

I say that in the midst of struggling with answers to prayer that don’t seem to be coming–friends dealing with incalculable health issues, heartbreaking stories of offspring who seem totally lost, emails from people struggling under financial burdens.

But when I close my eyes and seek the Lord in prayer, I’m reminded of prayers that were answered out of the blue when the wishes and yearnings were only half-expressed, half-articulated. It seemed that God knew what I wanted more than I could have.

Rick and his sons on vacation in Europe.For instance, when my wife and I were first wed, the minister who married us, a bachelor of the old school, said wryly in our single session of pre-marital counseling, “If you have children–and I’ve heard they are a blessing–make sure you are happy first. If you are happy, your children will be happy.”

We hardly could take in his words. We were in our early twenties. What did we know about children? We hadn’t even thought of having them. We simply nodded our heads at his sage advice and smiled at his aside, “and I’ve heard they are a blessing.”

Blessing indeed. We told ourselves that if we got pregnant we would somehow deal with the huge, impossible-to-imagine challenges of rearing children (the expense! the time! the energy! the emotional roller-coaster! the insecurity! the endless worries!). 

If God blessed us, we’d be okay. But if we didn’t have children, that would be okay too. We were happy as we were. What did we know?

The blessings came our third year of marriage and then again three years later: the wonderful, scary, heart-expanding, exhausting-making privilege to raise two boys, God’s children, ours to shepherd, somehow to adulthood.


As they say, the days go slow but the years go fast. They are now in their twenties, and we just spent a happy, blessed, week with the two of them on a family vacation to celebrate milestone birthdays and anniversaries. The trip was a gift from them to us.

Think about that. Your children giving to you. It reminds me of a phrase from that lovely hymn “Joyful, joyful, we adore thee.” The description of God: “Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blessed.”

Did I ever think, when I was first holding that helpless child in my arms, that he and his younger brother and I would be grown-ups together sitting on a statue in a distant park, ever blessing, ever blessed?

No, you don’t think that. They are the answers to prayers I couldn’t possibly have made, they are God’s gifts that I couldn’t have guessed at.

So please, if you’re struggling with some prayer that you get tired of uttering–as we all do–take heart. The answer could be something you have never expected, never even asked for.

The blessing could be on your way from God, our Father and Christ, our brother. Ever blessing, ever blessed.

And here’s a link to me singing “joyful, joyful, we adore thee” on our vacation:

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